The Fourth of July

Posted July 2, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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Saturday is July 4th. On this day, America celebrates its independence from Great Britain.

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This has been an extremely challenging year for Americans. As we celebrate our nation’s freedom, pause between bites of hot dogs and hamburgers to pray for peace, unity, justice, and equality.

And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up next to you
And defend Her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt
I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.

~Lee Greenwood

National Dairy Month

Posted June 25, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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Each year Madison, Wisconsin celebrates Dairy Month with a huge gathering on the Capital Concourse. This year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this delightful and delicious celebration was held as a virtual event. It’s not quite the same as being there. So, I decided to put up an old post of my visit to see Cows on the Concourse.

The Cow Stops Here

IMG_1130Mo-o-o-ve over! June is National Dairy Month, and the cows were out – Cows on the Wisconsin State Capital Concourse, of course, of course. “Dairy aire” was in the air. Got Milk? You betcha! White milk, chocolate milk, and strawberry milk were on the menu. There were hunka, hunks of cheese and mounds of squeaking cheese curds. If you missed breakfast or lunch, grilled cheese sandwiches were making the rounds. For dessert or an anytime treat, I scream, you scream we all scream for ice cream and don’t forget the overstuffed cream puffs. The cows were doing their best to please. It was a dairy day overload.

Follow me and see.

First stop — cows. I had a hard time getting close to the mooers. Those little kiddies wouldn’t let me in.

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big cow

I was looking for Alice in Dairyland, but found Natalie Salkowski, the Fairest of the Fair, instead. Notice she has a cow in her last name, and I think she’s wearing a dress designed by “Holstein.”

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Milk mustaches were en vogue.

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There were all kinds of dairy treats.

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grilled cheese

It was an “udderly” satisfying day. So don’t forget to celebrate National Dairy Month. Drink a glass of milk today!

Want to know more about cows and dairy products? Check these out.

The Milk Makers by Gail Gibbons (Aladdin, 1987), Cows (Animals Animals) by Renee C. Rebman (Benchmark Books, 2009), Farm Animals Cows by Cecilia Minden (Cherry Lake Pub., 2009), Cows (Animals That Live on the Farm) by JoAnn Early Macken (Weekly Reader Early Learning Library, 2009), Ice Cream:  The Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House, 2008)

For Fun:  A Big Cheese for the White House:  The True Tale of a Tremendous Cheddar by Candice Fleming (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) 2004) 

Say Cheese!

 

A Picture Book Review: Small Matters

Posted June 18, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Nonfiction Picture Books, Uncategorized

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Did you know that a powerful microscope can zoom in on the tiniest of details? It’s called a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Here’s your chance to learn what this book has hidden on the pages inside.

small matters

Small Matters:  The Hidden Power of the Unseen is written by Heather Ferranti Kinser. She introduces readers to reptiles, fish, insects, and birds that have hidden powers that can’t be seen with the naked eye. On one page, there is a vibrantly colored photograph of the animal. On the opposite page, there is a zoomed-in photograph of the unseen hidden power created by the scanning electron microscope. Kinser has attached a characteristic that describes what each hidden power is. A shark is SPEEDY because it has jagged scales on the skin to help it speed through the water. A toucan’s large beak has SUPPORT because the beak has holes that are covered with a very thin film which makes the beak strong and light. Eleven examples are included in the book. Kinser has done an excellent job of explaining the hidden power in terms that readers can easily understand. The photographs are large and detailed, and the back matter includes more information on each of the examples along with book suggestions for further reading. This is a great choice for kids who are interested in animals and their hidden superpowers.

DOWN UNDER THE PIER: A Perfect Summer Picture Book

Posted June 11, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Books, Seasonal Books

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Pier

Down Under the Pier begins with four children at an amusement park that overlooks the ocean. There’s a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, carousel, games, cotton candy, and a day filled with fun. But as the day moves into the evening and money has been spent, there is another adventure to be discovered. At low tide, there is a magical world down under the pier. No money required. It’s a world of sand, sea spray, waves, and a treasure trove of ocean creatures. Mussels, barnacles, sea stars, and anemones cling to the pilings of the pier. In the shallow waters of low tide are tiny crabs, seashells, kelp, and seaweed. Nell Cross Beckerman weaves a lyrical story about a day at an oceanside amusement park and the natural beauty and wonder of the ocean found down under the pier. Readers will delight in Rachell Sumpter’s colorful illustrations particularly those under the pier. This is the perfect summer book to be enjoyed by all!

A Time for Hope

Posted June 4, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

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In times of despair, a bit of encouragement is helpful. Emily Dickinson’s poem of hope inspires and gives us strength to renew our faith in the world so we can move forward to make it a kinder and gentler place.

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PB Review: Sloth to the Rescue

Posted May 28, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

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Sometimes we need to move slowly, but sometimes there is a need for urgency. Sloth in Sloth To The Rescue written by Leanne Shirtliffe and illustrated by Rob McClurkan needs to move quickly even though it may be uncomfortable and scary for him. 

Sloth’s friend, Patti, spent the summer writing a report due on the first day of school. His favorite thing about Patti is she is never in a rush. When Sloth sees Patti has forgotten her report on a bench at the Rainforest Rescue Center, Sloth needs to hurry to get it back to her, but Sloth is not someone who hurries. He realizes he needs a little help from his friends. Sloth enlists Peccary, Boa, Capuchin, and Ocelot. With Patti’s report in hand, they leave the comfort of the Rescue Center and take a field trip to Patti’s school to search for her. They search in the schoolyard, in the coatroom, in the classroom, in the gymnasium, but Patti is nowhere to be found. Sloth remembers that to calm down he must take his time. That’s when he finds Patti, dawdling near the water fountain. Patti is thrilled to see her friend and her report. The animals stay and listen to Patti’s report. Sloth is happy to be with Patti who, like Sloth, isn’t in a rush. Leanne Shirtliffe has written a delightful story about friendship and overcoming the fear of stepping outside one’s comfort zone. Her use of clever comments and wordplay will put a smile on readers’ faces as will Rob McClurkan’s charming illustrations of rainforest animals.      

 

Family Life With COVID-19

Posted May 21, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

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I’ve added many new words and phrases to my vocabulary in the last few months.

COVID-19, Coronavirus, Flattening the Curve, Community Spread, Stay-At-Home Advisory, Safer at Home, Social Distancing, the New Normal…

These are not words or phrases I choose to make a part of my everyday conversation. I’m tired of hearing them.

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My husband and I follow the rules and do what we need do to keep healthy — Clorox® Wipes and masks are new items in our household. I’d love to have color-coordinated masks like Nancy Pelosi wears, but my COVID outfit is old blue jeans. I guess my masks would always have some hue of blue. Never mind.

The whole pandemic is so overwhelming and exhausting! After three months of being cooped up with each other, away from our family, friends, and people in general, my husband and I decided it was time to see our daughter, son-in-law, and three little granddaughters. We loaded up my van with Easter gifts, Mother’s Day gifts, a Father’s Day wheelbarrow, gardening tools and equipment, plants, and, yes — toilet paper.

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Off we went, making sure we drove safely, kept our vehicle distance, and stayed away from the crazies on the road. I texted my daughter to tell her we were almost there. As we drove up the driveway, this is what we saw.

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Our sweet family was in the front yard waving to us. A beautiful sight to behold! We kept our social distance, blew kisses from behind our masks and gave everyone long-distance hugs. We unpacked the van and then were ushered into the living room which was gated off from the family room. Besides the gifts we had, I also brought some books to read to the girls who were eager to hear them.

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Notice the Clorox® wipes and mask next to me and the two four-year-olds in front of me. The two-year-old wanted to cross the boundary line and come and sit with me. When I told her she couldn’t, she put on her oh-so-cute Shirley Temple pout and disappeared.

We had conversations, snacks, and exchanged long overdue gifts — goodies for the girls and a book of Family Holiday Traditons I have been working on for my daughter — plus that wheelbarrow for Father’s Day.

 Specially made gifts for us…

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A masterpiece for our refrigerator.

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A teacup fairy garden made by my daughter and all the girls, using natural materials found in their yard.

When it was time to go, we once again blew kisses from behind our masks and gave everyone long-distance hugs. We got into our empty van. A couple of tears slipped down my cheeks as we headed home. Okay, it was more than a couple of tears. Where are the tissues when you need them? If this is the new normal, I don’t like it one bit!

I look forward to better days when we can breathe in fresh air without masks strapped across our faces. More importantly, I want to be able to reach out and touch someone without being afraid of contracting or passing along a deadly virus. I want to freely hug, kiss, and cuddle my loved ones once again!

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Brown Sugar Babe – A Delicious Picture Book

Posted May 14, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Books

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sugar

Brown Sugar Babe is written by Charlotte Watson Sherman and illustrated by Akem, Boyds Mills Press, 2020.

This is a beautiful story of a small child who doesn’t like the color of her brown skin. “I’m pink.” She declares. The lyrical text flows throughout the story as the child’s mother tries to convince her “brown sugar babe” to embrace all the wonderful attributes of the color brown. The author, Charlotte Watson Sherman, uses a variety of techniques to tell her story. Metaphors  “…your hair, a crown of brown curls…” Comparisons:  “Brown is silent—  a raisin crinkling in the sun…” Rhyme:  “Bubbling brown sugar babe, honeyed and bright as marmalade.” Akem‘s magical illustrations are lush with rich earth tones of brown, yellow, red, and orange in double-page spreads.  Brown Sugar Babe is a delicious story of a mother’s love and a child’s acceptance that makes for a tasty read aloud to be shared again and again.

 

 

 

National No Socks Day!

Posted May 7, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , , , ,

Did you know that May 8th is National No Socks Day?

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It’s great that we have socks, but they can be a real pain. They end up with holes. They get lost in washers. They pair up with a mismatch. They get lost in dryers. They are smelly. They like to hide in sheets. They cling to shirts. And there’s always that sock that is permanently missing from the sock drawer.

So, get ready to toss those socks away tomorrow. Give your little piggies room to wiggle and breathe the fresh air!

When you’re finished getting your socks in order, here are some sock books to share with your little ones.

red sock

One Red Sock 

pig and fox

A Pig, A Fox, And Stinky Socks

LIttle sock

Little Sock

goldy

Goldy the Puppy and the Missing Socks 

And don’t forget…

fox

Fox in Socks

 

 

Let Your Spirits Soar!

Posted April 30, 2020 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , ,

During this unusual time in which we’re living, I thought I’d post something light and uplifting. So, in honor of the end of Poetry Month and the beginning of May, I give you…

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May is pretty, May is mild,

Dances like a happy child;

Sing out, robin; spring out, flowers;

April went with all her showers,

And the world is green again;

Come out, children to the glen,

To the meadows, to the wood,

For the earth is clean and good

And the sky is clear and blue,

And bright May is calling you!

May is pretty, May is mild,

Dances like a happy child,

On a blessed holiday,

Come out, children, join the play!

~ Annette Wynne

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Have a beautiful May Day!


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